It has now started coming in trickles, i.e. important films in Hindi cinema which were landmark during the times when they were released, are now being revisited to give them a proper social and economic context. In the 27 year, when it was released, JAANE BHI DO YAARO by Jai Arjun Singh is quite contextual, as it underlines the premise that fighting against the system continues to be one long drawn haul as it was shown in JAANE BHI DO YAARO, and the situation sliding further into abyss. It is more so contextual in the context of the civil society protests, and as the film's DVD is difficult to find, the book serves as a veritable treatise for the film aficionados to rewind and savor one of the first films that started the trend of black humor.
One is startled to find that JAANE BHI DO YAARO may not have seen the light of the day. In those times it was National Film Development Corporation which used to provide finance for making of such off-beat films and once the film was completed it was the responsibility of NFDC to release it or otherwise. Incidentally, JAANE BHI DO YAARO in Delhi was identified with Sheila cinema where it had a marathon run along with Prakah Jha's film HIP HIP HURRAY.
JAANE BHI DO YAARO was a star-studded show of the parallel cinema comprising of Om Puri, Satish Shah, Naseerudin Shah, Ravi Waswani, Vinod Chopra, Sudhir Mishra, Neena Gupta, Pankaj Kapur, Satish Kaushik etc., The use and throw culture, which has become sine quo non of the society of the present times was for the first time articulated through JAANE BHI DO YAARO, and its dialogue Aadha Khao Aadha Phenkon, indeed has become eponymous of the present day social construct. It is through the book one comes to know that had it not for the editing done by late Renu Saluja JBDY would not have been what it finally emerged, and her editing emerged as a crucial element when she edited her husband Vidhu Vinod Chopra's epochal film PARINDA and subsequent films. Her untimely death was a vital loss to Hindi film industry.
Jai Arjun Singh has indeed taken great pains to chronicle each and every aspect associated with JAANE BHI DO YAARO including the commentary on gutter ka paani and peene ka paani mil bhi jaae to kya fark padta hai, and indeed it still is the social reality in most of the Indian cities, including the megapolis like Mumbai and Delhi. It is also through the book that one comes to realize how all the actors worked on a shoe string budget, Ravi Baswani even contemplating leaving the film as he was not given the promised Rs. 6000 as the remuneration. JBDY was probably the first film that acquired cult status after its repeated telecast over Doordarshan.
The book is full of anecdotes which regale with hilarity and needs to be savored. Let's hope more such chronicles of Hindi film would be on the anvil. Importance of the work also lies in the fact that it is written by the writer who was a part of the phenomenon JBDY when it happened in early eighties, unlike the writers who try to interpret films sitting outside country.